Some Next Steps for Theatre: Ethics, Education, and a Pivot to Digital
Last Wednesday we were conducting business as usual. By Friday, the final four productions of the Alliance Theatre’s 51st season—Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Rock Experience, 53% Of, In My Granny’s Garden, and Sweat—had been suspended due to concerns over the proliferation and potential community spread of COVID-19 in Atlanta. The theatre’s education programming also became a casualty of the pandemic, with in-school programs, classes, workshops, and festivals being postponed, if not outright cancelled. Last Thursday, as the Alliance’s education staff scrolled through our social media feeds to see that Broadway would be going dark, a live feed played in our conference room of Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp announcing that schools, childcare providers, and local governments had the option to close for two weeks. The fact was undeniable: Our closure might prove temporary, but it was imminent and inevitable.
Though it is the ethical and moral duty of cultural institutions to protect the health of their patrons, their staff, their volunteers, and their artists by closing doors at the onset of COVID-19 to help contain its imminent spread, what does this mean for artists who lose their livelihood and face devastating financial repercussions in the meantime?